Saving Kuma's Life

This is my sweet baby boy Kuma’s last hope :(

Three months ago, he was diagnosed with immune-mediated polyarthritis and steroidal-responsive meningitis. Over the last month, his condition has deteriorated rapidly, his treatment plan is not keeping his disease under control, and he has been developing severe secondary infections.

For those who don’t know the full story:

Before Kuma was officially my puppy, he was having seizures and one day spiked a fever of 109 degrees. Over the next 24 hours he went downhill fast; with the neurological issues he was exhibiting, the doctor gave him a less than 10% chance of surviving.

At this point, he was 3 months old and his owner wanted to put him to sleep. There was NO way I was going to let that happen, so they relinquished him to me and Kuma officially became my puppy.

The neurologist noticed that his joints looked swollen and recommended starting steroids and performing a joint tap. Kuma responded to the steroids miraculously and had been doing amazingly better up until about a month ago. The joint tap showed negative for any vector borne illness or infectious disease, so the doctors speculated that he has IMPA/SRMA which was supposed to have a good prognosis.

For the next two months, Kuma’s diseases were managed by a large amount of medications, specifically a heavy dosage of steroids. About twice a week at night, Kuma would spike fevers between 103-106 degrees, which I would manage at home with treatments of cold water baths, cold water enemas, and subcutaneous fluids. Some nights, I would have to do 5 rounds of this and it would take 5 hours of being up all night with him until the fever would break. These were long and draining nights, but I would do anything for him.

Despite a few scares over these two months, he has been a very happy and social puppy who LOVES to eat and play with other dogs. He even started to show some naughty behavioral issues which, for the first time in my life as a dog trainer, made me HAPPY because I knew he had to be feeling okay and alert.

Over the past month, however, Kuma’s condition has been progressively getting worse. His fevers are becoming more consistent and it is to the point where it is more abnormal for him to NOT have a fever, than to have a fever on any given day. The flare ups of his disease not only consist of fevers, but also of severe pain of his joints, where at times, he isn’t even able to walk. For the past two weeks, he has had to have an opioid patch on his neck 24/7 to manage his pain and somewhat manage the fevers.

Due to the intense amount of steroids that Kuma is given with his treatment, he now has developed calcinosis cutis on his entire back, which is basically Cushing’s disease in dogs. This is a MAJOR issue because we need to get him off of the steroids ASAP, as they are destroying his body, but the steroids are the only thing somewhat managing his disease and keeping him from having seizures and dying.

Yesterday, Kuma woke up in extreme discomfort, eyes swollen and closed, labored breathing, and tacky gums. He was rushed to the vet, where they immediately had him on oxygen and IV fluids. After a day of tests, the vet thinks that he now additionally has pneumonia, due to how immunosuppressed and weak his body is.

Kuma’s condition is so rare that the vets here (the specialty vet, emergency vet, and local vet) really don’t know how to treat him and a lot of it has been guess work. His current treatment plan is clearly not working and I have been so desperate to find him the help he needs. I have tried SO many avenues and have contacted experts all around the country, but nobody has been able to give me any solid answers about what I can do to help him get better.

My plan now is to fly him across the country, as soon as he is stable enough, to have him looked at by the University of Minnesota Veterinary School Internal Medicine Department and hopefully get some treatment protocols that will improve his condition. I am reaching out to other internists as well, and someone has even recommend a spiritual healer. I am willing to do whatever it takes to help my sweetheart. I would give ANYTHING in the entire world for him to be healthy so that he can live the life he deserves.

The past 3 months have been the most emotionally draining and hardest months of my entire life. I am so desperate to help him, but I cannot do it on my own and have to reach out for help. Kuma’s medical expenses have already surpassed over $20,000, and getting the help he needs in order to beat this and live a normal quality of life is going to cost much more. ANYTHING helps at this point. Please help me save this innocent soul so that he doesn’t have to go through this pain any longer. I so so so appreciate all of the support I have received through this entire journey with Kuma! Thank you all and please pray for Kuma 

Update 5/20/18:

Baby Kuma is currently fighting for his life. He is in the worst condition I have ever seen him in. This morning we woke up to Kuma seizing and completely non-responsive while laying in his own vomit, diarrhea and urine. While rushing him to the vet his entire body was shutting down - his heart rate, body temp, and SPO2 (oxygen) levels were unstable and he was physically and mentally unresponsive for more than 2.5 hours. After administering every dose of medication possible, absolutely nothing was changing in his physical symptoms. I thought we were about to say goodbye. I’ve never been so scared in my life. Left with the option to wait it out while he was essentially a vegetable or to let him go, we decided to ask for your prayers and wait just a little longer to see if any response would come back. 30 minutes later, he started blinking... Now, over the past couple hours, Kuma has very slowly started to respond a tiny bit to touch and started crying in pain. Compared the physical and mental comatose he was in this morning, these response signs are miraculous. Kuma has been transferred to specialty hospital and the doctors are working to figure out what’s going on but he’s still in critical condition. He was doing SO well the last month and a half, fever-free and so happy. He is having severe neurological issues right now, so we are hoping that they will subside but there is a chance they could be permanent. After seeing him come back from a state of what seemed to be braindead, I will do whatever it takes to continue fighting for my warrior. I am praying so hard for my sweet baby boy

Kuma’s medical bills have added up to be about $30K so far (absolutely insane I know), and we will have several thousand dollars added to this to try to save his life one last time. So here I am, asking you, BEGGING you all for your help again in ANY way that you can. Whether that’s donating, sharing with friends, posting to your story or sending your prayers, truly ANYTHING HELPS! Thank you all so so much for your continued support of my incredible little warrior and PLEASE keep him in your prayers!

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Update 5/21/18:

To say I am heartbroken is an incredible understatement. Words cannot describe this feeling. My heart has been ripped out and shattered into a million pieces and I don’t know how it will ever be healed.

Last night I had to say goodbye to Kuma, the most precious soul in my life. My baby. My literal everything. I have never loved someone so much.

Kuma was truly an angel on Earth. Anyone who knew him knew how special he was. For a puppy going through so much adversity, he was always SO brave and happy. No matter what was going on or how bad he was feeling, Kuma was always wagging his tail. He is the sweetest soul I have ever known.

God gifted me with Kuma for 8 months, and while our time together was far too short, Kuma taught me more about life in those short 8 months than I had learned in a lifetime.

He taught me how to love unconditionally to a degree that I never knew existed.

He taught me that I can’t shut down when times are tough and that I need to stay positive when going through adversity.

He taught me how to have faith even in the darkest of times.

He taught me how precious life is and to cherish every single moment with your loved ones.

Kuma told me it was his time to go. God needed my angel boy. I am completely devastated but I try to find comfort knowing he is running around in heaven pain-free.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported Kuma and me through everything over the past 8 months. Thank you for your prayers, love and donations - I appreciate every single one of you and I know Kuma does too as he watches over us in heaven.

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Kaelin Munkelwitz 
Poway, CA
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